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History of Asian Immigrants to the United States, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Since the first generation of Asian American immigrants, the Asian culture has faced a variety of adversity in the United States.  Many left family values and strict tradition behind to enter a nation far less promising than initially expected.  From culture shock and poverty to different family values and religious customs, Asians seemed to endure a rough and bumpy transition into America.  However, many of the adversities and trials could never amount to the racism and discrimination in which Asian American immigrants withstand.

Japanese immigrants had always been a small percentage of the U.S. population. Nevertheless, during the onset of the 20th century organized crusades had ascended in an attempt to exclude Japanese immigrants from American life.  Astonishing reports headlined the English language media depicting the Japanese as adversaries of the American worker, as a peril to American womankind, and as undignified citizens of the American society.  In general terms, the press merely repeated many equivalent slanders as were used opposing the Chinese immigrants who had settled first.

As a revolt against Asian immigration, the leader of the American Federation of Labor condemned all Asians and banned them from obtaining association in America’s largest union.   Additionally, legislators and mayors required a Japanese Exclusion Act in order to defend the United States.  Anti-Japanese lawmaking rapidly trailed.

In 1908, Japan and America agreed upon what was known as the “Gentlemen’s Agreement”.  Japan settled to limit immigration to the United States, while America arranged admittance to the wives and kids as well as other relatives of immigrants already local.  The state of California passed the Alien Land Law, which condemned all alien immigrants ineligible for citizenship and from possessing land in California, even if they had purchased it prior to the law.

The new legal obstacles led to intricate evasions of the law, as Japanese proprietors began registering their property under European American names, or in the names of their American-born offspring.  Furthermore, Japanese immigration grew excessively female, with more women leaving Japan as brides engaged to immigrant males in America.  However, the life of a Japanese American bride was not easy.  Many women were put to work for subordinate wages.

In addition to harsh laws and legal discrimination, violent events of racism and prejudice paint the history of Asians in the United States of America.  From events including the Rock Springs massacre and cruel treatment and discrimination toward the Japanese after the Pearl Harbor attacks which ultimately led the United States to war.

For instance, the Rock Springs massacre which is also called the Rock Springs Riot occurred in the year of 1885, in the area that is known as Rock Springs, Wyoming today.  The outburst and revolt was a direct result of the racial strains that transpired between the Chinese immigrant miners and the white immigrant miners of the time.   There had been an ongoing labor quarrel revolving the Union Pacific Coal Department paying the Chinese miners subordinate wages compared to the white miners.  First of all, the Chinese miners did not appreciate being deemed as less valuable than their fellow white colleagues, and the white miners did not appreciate the Chinese miners swooping in to take their jobs for a cheaper wage.

Most of the Chinese who migrated to Wyoming initially accepted jobs with the railroad, however, many wound up working in the coal mines owned by the railroad instead.  As the numbers of Chinese immigrants increased, thus the number of Chinese workers also increasing, so did the prejudices, bad attitudes, and discriminations of the white workers.  Although income and fair labor rights were huge contributing factors in the Rock Springs massacre, the racial rigidities held an even stronger precedence in the riot.

At least 28 Chinese miners died as a result of the riot.  And about 15 others were severely injured.  The white minors and white protesters burned about 75 Chinese homes amounting to about $150,000.00 in property damage overall (Larson).

The Rock Springs massacre displays the American distain for foreign workers taking their jobs.  The Chinese and Japanese alike were treated unfairly in the workforce and received minimal compensation for their hard work.  Low and unfair wages were unfair to the Asian workers as well as the American workers who became outraged.  The Rock Springs massacre seems to be an intense and extreme example of the conflict of racial differences in the early years of Asian immigration.

Later on, Asian Americans across the nation suffered severely during World War II.  This is one of the most well-known acts of unified discrimination and segregation in the United States.  With World War II came immense discrimination and animosity for the Japanese population.  After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese people were majorly judged and segregated through public discrimination and government concentration camps.

This most intense origination of Japanese discrimination in America was a direct result entirely from the attack on Pearl Harbor.  The attack on Pearl Harbor, by the Japanese, forced the United States into the Second World War.  At that point, Americans made a declaration to fight Japan and all its allies…including those living in our own country.

The fact that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor before a proper declaration of war maddened and outraged Americans across the nation.  The Japanese were viewed as cowards and chickens for their attack.  The distain for the Japanese culture was openly and publicly encouraged.

After the Pearl Harbor attack many “Jap hunting licenses” were dispersed around the United States.  As a matter of fact, an early American magazine called “Life” printed a biased and predisposed article about how to distinguish the Japanese from the Chinese merely by their nose and body shape (Luce).  The Japanese community was harshly discriminated against during the war.  And many were deported or sent to Japanese camps during the war.

The Japanese in America were immediately up-rooted and torn from their homes in America and forced into dirty and unwelcoming Japanese camps.  In camps the government housed and fed the population of Japanese Americans during the war.  They were allotted a monthly allowance of $10.50, and were served bland and distasteful foods (Kikumura , 52).

Overall, an assessed 112,000 to 120,000 Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans in the West Coast alone were detained in camps irrespective of their attitudes, perspectives, and allegiance to either the United States or the country of Japan (Kikumura).  The American Japanese population was held captive in the inner most states of the United States for the duration of World War II.  Furthermore, a 1944 judgment poll estimated that an entire 13 percent of American citizens were inclined to the extermination and elimination of all Japanese people (Feraru).

This act of discrimination and segregation during World War II directly reflects the history of hardship the Asians faced in early America.  Correlating with the information discussed in class and shared in many readings and text books, this event sums up the extent of what the early generation Asian immigrants endured.

Since the early generations of Asian Americans, the Asian culture has been confronted with a vast array of adversity in what they hoped would be the land of dreams and promise.  Many Asians left family values and strict traditions behind to enter a nation far less promising than initially expected.  A variety of destitution painted the lives of early Asian settlers.  From the experience of poverty and differing family beliefs as well as religious customs, Asians have certainly endured rough and bumpy transitions into the United States…even to this current day.  However, many of the adversities and trials could never amount to the racism and discrimination in which Asian American immigrants withstand.

Works Cited

Feraru, A. N. Public Opinion Polls on Japan. Stats. US: Far Eastern Survey , 1950. doi:10.1525/as.1950.19.10.01p0599l.

Kikumura, Akemi. Through Harsh Winters: The LIfe of a Japanese Immigrant Woman. U.S.A.: Chandler & Sharp Publishers, Inc., 1981. Book.

Larson. History of Wyoming. US: University of Nebraska Press, 1990. Book.

Luce, Henry. “How to tell Japs from the Chinese.” Life (n.d.): 81-82. Print.

“Racial hate once flared on Central Coast.” The Weekend Pinnacle Online (2006). web.

“Racial Tension Rising in Dallas Against Korean Community.” The Chosun Ilbo (2012). web.

Staten, Clark. “Three days of @#!*% in Los Angeles.” Emergencynet News Service (1992). web.

Wu, Frank H. Yellow: race in America beyond black and white. NY: Basic Books, 2011. Book.

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